If you want to attract an honorable lady, be an honorable man.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 in Review

I was sitting here doing my thing, when it hit me.

Its the end of the year. One whole year has gone by. Hot Dog.

So of course, I am bound to do a year in review. Gee, where to begin.

Every year I say I learned so much, that I begin to wonder if I learned anything in the previous year by comparison. It just keeps growing year after year, and I keep learning, so I am beginning to wonder if either there is so much more to learn than I ever dreamed possible, or if I am so stupid that I hardly ever learned anything in the years previous.

Let's hope it's option A....

So, the year. It's fun to look back through the posts I put up through the year, seeing my thoughts play out as events happened to spark ideas for blog posts.

This year had a milestone moment for me, that changed my life radically, and I will never be the same. I hope you all have seen the change, but I'll get to that in a minute. :)

Nothing much interesting happened in January.  I did three posts, one about changing the world with the small things in life, one about how Christians are losing their salt and light, and a video from Fox News about gun control. Nothing too exciting.

In February was our annual Men and Boys Campout, and I got this stunning shot on a hike we went on as the sun was going down.

In February I also got my compound bow, and have been avidly archer-ing away ever since. I did a couple movie reviews, a video post, and officially hit my 100 post mark. Nice little stepping stone. 

In March, things kicked off with our annual Men's Prayer advance, where I shot my first Rattlesnake, and my good friend nearly got lost in the desert. My friend survived the experience. The Rattlesnake - not so much. 

Noah shot one, mine is the one on bottom
Right after, all the guys in my family and an entire other family went to a handgun training course outside of Las Vegas. Two days of bang and bullets, complete with firing my first full-auto UZI. Talk about fun. 

The only thing I blogged about was a post about the two trips. But it was in between those two trips, the change of a lifetime began. 
I didn't realize it until later in the year, but it started here, and I will get to that in a minute. : )

In April, nothing of note happened, except that I wrote a post about what I like about girls. That post has hit the mark of 248 views, 5 +'s and 28 comments - so far my most popular and often viewed post. It happens to be one of my favorite posts, so I am glad everybody took to it so well. : D 

In May, things came to a head in my spiritual life, and I made a turn around a spiritual corner that has left me changed forever. 

I found me. 

Up until this year, I had no idea who I was - who the real me really was, way deep down where nobody saw. I knew what I wanted to be, I knew what I wasn't, but I didn't know what I was. And that journey, that realization, that God led me down quietly and slowly so as not to overwhelm me in one fell blow, changed me forever. 

I did a post on the real me, which was a huge milestone for my spiritual walk, but the best part was what was happening in my heart. I was changing, realizing my real weakness, learning to be content with who I was, not trying to change myself to who I wanted to be, and the best part, since I learned how sensitive I was, I learned (more like, still learning) how to be sensitive, kind, and loving to others - because I knew what it felt like to be on the other end of insensitivity, unkindness, and unlovingness (is that a word?.....)

I hope you have seen a change in me since then, because that section of time in my life, literally, was the most important so far. Everything in my life led to that point, and wow, Thank God he showed it to me. 

Whoops, that went a bit long. Moving on....

I also had my senior Photo Shoot, and did random crazy things like AZ surfing as the temperature climbed far to high for my comfort.  
Three surfers with their horses that they trained

Class of 2013

In June, I actually graduated, which was  -  to put it mildly - nice. 15 years of schooling under my belt, a gun on my hip, and ready to take on the great big world - or so it felt at the time. : )

But I also did another momentous post, on not only who I was, but how I got to who I was, through my past, my hurt, my pain, and my life - all shaping me to who I am today. After I figured out who I was, it was only a matter of connecting the dots to my life to figure out how I got there. 

Let me tell you, in all honesty and seriousness - if you have never been at that point where you ground yourself to reality - find out who you really are and why you really are, you are probably adrift in the world and in your heart. I know I was, and that is a miserable and lonely place to be. That time in my life, all heading in that post, was, without a doubt besides my actual conversion, the most important time in my life. 

Those two posts, the ones about me and how I got there, are my favorite posts. : ) Where I open wide to all the world who I am, and pray for mercy from God to accept that and go on with being more like his Son. 

Golly, I tend to get long winded. Sorry, moving on. 

In July, I turned 20 (woo!) and played in the water some more. I hurt my ankle the week before my birthday, so I spent my birthday at an indoor shooting range and doing a LOTR and Hobbit Marathon. Wow, what a day. 

Surfing away

I did a few posts about growing up, a video of us surfing, and a post on funny videos. Just went and watched Swedish Chef again - gee that guy is funny. 

August rolled around - wow, the year is going quickly isn't it?  - We had my graduation party with some of the men from church, where they all got together and gave me a challenge,  basically to go out there and take over the world for God - awesome stuff. If I could hear that every day of my life, I probably would be a different man. 
We also had my Birthday/Graduation party up north in the mountains for two days, with my new canoe I bought and fixed up, playing on the lake, and catching crawdads in the creek. 
Me at the end of my grad party

Breaking in my new 20 foot canoe I fixed up - and it floated! 

Yes, he is hunting crawdads with a bow

I did a few random blog posts, one of which was still sparking political arguments recently. 

September rolled in with a swing, and brought loads of action and excitement. 
My mom went on a road trip with our other family for a horse show for a week, so all the guys from both families were at home taking care of enough animals to open a small zoo. Fun stuff. 

Right afterwards was Noah's Birthday, where I took Noah canoeing, then we went out in the desert with our other family, and blew up a dryer, shot guns, and lit off fireworks. 

Adventure calls...

Me looking more than pleased, the smoke from what was left of a dryer floating away in the background. 3 pounds of Tannerite + dryer = BIG BOOM.

Sat back and had our own personal firework show. Pretty isn't it? 

Right afterwards was our annual church Family camp, where I set my personal record on number of fish caught in one day, number of fish caught in the two day trip, and my biggest bass yet. Whopping weekend, where I also hurt my leg in a church game that nearly lamed me for over a month. I spent most of one afternoon limping around the lake catching fish like crazy. I have a knack of hurting myself at the wrong time..... 

Big bubba - or whatever the fish equivalent is 

I also finally finished a knife I had been making for the longest time. I took an old Horse rasp, and ground it down into a formidable hunting knife. I could chop through a tree with this thing, and I think it would still be sharp. It's a bit of a brick, but I would have no hesitation putting it through anything the wild throws at me. All the long hours of work were totally worth it. 

A knife among knives

I also decided in September that, someday, I would do an outdoor adventure business - Man Up Adventures. Hope to pull that off someday. 

October came in much looked for, and with it my first Elk season, where I spent a week watching more 4-wheelers and trucks than elk, got a shot at one but didn't bring it in, then nearly hit a big bull in the road on our way home.    
Yours truly 

I did a few posts about the hunt itself, but besides that the only other thing I did was start having a friend build me a website for my art (COMING SOON!) 

November snuck in before I knew what was happening, and brought with it a fun post about makeup, and couple of other ones in light of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was had at our other families house, with fun, food, and bows - redneck thanksgiving all the way, and I think I can safely say, the best Thanksgiving I have had yet. 
I think this is my favorite shot of the year, with my favorite people anywhere

December came way to quickly, bringing with it a deer hunt - my first archery hunt for that matter, with a post on what I learned on the hunt. 

Me and my family saw Thor 2, The Hobbit 2, I argued with HTML for an evening and produced my first blogger button, and....well....

That would bring me to right now! 

Whew! What a year. My years keep getting better - Next year should be whopping. : ) 

But honestly, I really do want to know - what change have you all seen in me this past year? It was pretty momentous for me, so I would love y'alls outside opinion - and tips for improving! As honest and blatant as you can manage - without getting nasty.  : D 

All in all, the best year I have had yet. Learning so much more than I ever thought possible, growing in more ways than I ever thought possible (thank God not my waistline.....) with loads of awesome hunting, fishing, hiking, swimming, canoeing, talking, praying, and other stories ram-packed in around them. 

Thank God for a good year - here's to more. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Heroes and Damsels

Christmas has come and gone, and left me sick in bed. :( Thank God I got through Christmas before I went under, but now I am spending a good deal of time in bed. 

My brother and I received Thor, Captain America, and the Avengers for Christmas on DVD, and since he is sick as well, we broke in the new movies in style in our pajamas on laptops. I don't care who you are, or where you are from, that is an awesome gift. :) 

As you all should know by now, I love heroic movies of all types and varieties, whether the hero is waving a sword or a six-shooter, or anything in-between. Hammers included. 

Watching the Marvel movies recently has made me realize something that I hadn't seen before. My mom had hinted at it, and kinda eluded to it, but it hadn't quite clicked in my mind till now. 

Guys are meant to be heroes, and anybody who thinks otherwise has never seen a two year old with a stick in the backyard. At the age ripe old age of two, he will bash the brains out of every villainous bush in sight, wade through G.I. Joe strewn terrain, all to save his sister from that menacing bee hovering slightly too close for the poor damsels comfort. 

It's built into guys to want to be the hero, save the day, rescue the maiden, and then be respected and honored for it. There is a reason the Marvel movies have had such a massive success in today's culture. Effeminate guys who couldn't bench 20 are desperate to fill that hero in them just trying to leak out, but the feminized world keeps stuffing it back in every time it's facial hair and muscles give a show around the corner. 

Sorry, that feminism stuff was a side rant. Moving on.

So it's built into guys to want to be heroes, but I am finding that I can get a bit discouraged and discontent sometimes, after watching heroic movies, or reading epic stories of gallant men, hair-breadth escapes, and ending the whole tale with a dashing rescue of the damsel in distress, usually accompanied by the death of some fearsome beast. 

Because, honestly, none of that stuff happens in real life. 

Aliens don't attack New York, thus demanding people in cool suits and smashing weapons to come save the day. It looks so smashing (litterally) to beat them up with a shield and a hammer.

The lady doesn't ever get captured, and dragons seemed to have died out ages ago. Shouldn't somebody have told those knights to save a few for guys down the line? 

You never get cornered by a ruthless pack of men wielding knives and black mustaches, forcing you to defend your life (or even better - your wife) from overwhelming odds. Last stands are so epic.

That bump in the night wasn't an armed robbery waiting to be averted - it was the dog dreaming about chasing the cat again. Those new hollow-points will have to wait. 

You never find a treasure chest in you back yard, or find a secret compartment in the barn with a cryptic clue, leading you on a wild goose chase with gold or fortune at the end of the trail, the path woven with crooks and villains after the same treasure and willing to do very un-gentlemanly things to get it.   

You don't get a chance to sail to South America and find all the adventure you had ever dreamed about in treasure hunts in Brazil, sword fights with Pirates, battles with toothsome crocodiles, and long hikes across breathtaking scenery. 

Face it - none of that happens in real life. 

Life involves barn chores, brainless goats, sick people, moping floors, muddy boots, junk mail, loads of laundry waiting to be dealt with, and dirty dishes starting to resemble those mountains of Peru you keep reading about. 

Adventures don't really come knocking on your door. They just don't. 

I read all the epic stories, I watch all the epic movies, listen to all the epic music, then walk away and go back to my normal life, wondering why my life can't be that way. 

Girls, you aren't off the hook either.   

The stories all have the guys come riding in on a horse - or flying in with a red cape - to save the maiden from sudden death, or something as equally terrible. The man is always there, whisking you off into the sunset, one arm around the girl, the other holding onto the rope he is hanging by as he swings across the canyon. You girls are made to be loved, and to look up to a certain somebody in your life as your hero, as your knight in skiny armor, there to battle the villains in your life for you. Where the heck did he go? 

And I can imagine you get a bit discouraged and discontent as well. Why don't more guys go around in tights with shields? 

We all live in the plain, ordinary world, where things are....well.... plain and ordinary. Guys don't have epic battles with winged vermin, and girls don't have dashing gents to whisk them away. 

We have grocery shopping, piano lessons, putting in overtime at work, dead cell phone batteries, taxes, sick animals, and feed bills. The list of unadventurous and unexciting things that our lives consist of is tremendous, and this list of exciting things that actually happens is limited to the water-heater breaking in the middle of that nice hot shower. 

So what happened to guys being made to be heroes? What happened to girls needing to be rescued? Sure, in the old days ordinary people had loads of adventures, battling Indians on the Oregon trail, fighting starvation in the dead of a Kansas winter when there is six feet of snow on the ground, and the like. We can list out all the good times people had braving the brave new world as they explored, plowed, and made the world we are in now. But that was then - the list of adventures waiting to be had in our present day and age seems to have grown thin.

So what now? So we blow everything up and start from scratch? Or we all move to South America and Africa, and start up homesteading there? A good dose of Safari aught to fill your adventure meter. 

Are we as boys doomed to a non-adventurous life? Are all the ladies fated to sit on the front porch and watch the sunset without a horseman to whisk them away into it?

Hardly, I think. We are just looking the wrong way. I am finding I have to constantly readjust my focus and mindset from shields and swords to.... well, I'll get there in a moment. 

As guys, we ten to think heroics can only be accomplished by wielding a weapon and defending the helpless against overwhelming odds. Girls tend to think heroes are tall, strikingly handsome, and wear either armor or designer tights. 

We should think again.

Full Definition of HERO

a :  a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent
endowed with great strength or ability
b :  an illustrious warrior
c :  a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
d :  one who shows great courage
a :  the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work
b :  the central figure in an event, period, or movement
plural usually he·ros :  submarine 2
:  an object of extreme admiration and devotion :

 Ok, so half of that definition we already knew - brave guy, saving the world from aliens. Or something similar.         

The other half tends to get kinda left out. 

Showing great courage isn't limited to charging headlong at a line of spearmen - what about facing off that foul-mouthed uncle at a family party? Courage isn't be fearless - it's being scared and not letting your fear stop you. 

Guys, being heroic can mean merely opening the door for a lady, merely mopping up the kitchen when your mom is sick - little things. Little acts of heroism that go unnoticed are often times the greatest heroics of all. Most guys will take on twelve armed thugs - with his bare hands if need be - if his wife is in their custody. Not many guys will go in and clean the entire kitchen because their wife has a nasty headache and is laying down. Any guy will take a bullet for his girl - it takes a real man to make that late-night run to the store - in your pajamas and slippers -  because the kids are sick and the wife needs more chicken soup. 

Gents, that's heroics. 

We tend to think heroics are only heroics if they help change the world. 

The world is made and shaped by thousands of tiny actions by every person, every day. By doing those small things, you really, legitimately, are changing the world. Granted, there isn't the glitz and glam accompanying mopping as usually follows an epic sword fight, but mopping is just as important. 

You want to be a hero? Obey your parents in the little things, don't argue back, fetch your mom that glass of water, hold the door for that lady, carry the heavy things to the car..... you know the list. It's ingrained into every guy to do those things, to help and be the hero, just sometimes it needs training and tempering to bring it out, and to squash down the mangy head of selfishness that too often appears on the scene instead. 

Gals, the same goes for you, just in different ways. 

Your hero might not be six feet tall, have long blonde hair, and tote a hammer, but thank your little brother for being that hero when he fetches you the broom, or squashes that spider into the carpet you just cleaned. Thank him for it all - it will mean the world to him, and will also inspire him to do similar things again.
So Gals, be content with the heroes you have. God has given you all the heroes you need. 

So guys, start looking for those little ways to be heroic. It doesn't have to involve killing things, really. It can just be setting the table for your mom. In fact, whenever you did something right, did something kind, did something just, did something loving - you were a hero. This world is sorely needing people to do things like that, and the more you do it, the more you change the world

Girls, be content with the little heroics around you. That guy who let you go first at the stop sign was giving you quite the favor. Learn to spot those small hero-isms, and be grateful for those small things.

Because it's those small things, guys and girls, that really make the difference. It's those little things, that are really heroic.

A cape is just icing.  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Of Hurricanes, 4 Wheeling, Big Bucks, and Bow Hunting - A Tale of a Spiritual Journey

So, it's official. I have officially been on my first bow-hunt, and Oh Golly was it a trip. Unfortunately, my camera battery died halfway through the trip, so I have almost zero pictures.

This trip was nothing like any other trip I have been on, where I reaped more spiritual benefits than meat, by a long shot. Bear with me as I go through some of the details of the hunt, because those details are important to the story and message I learned. So just grit through the hunter-eeze for a while. It's worth it.

It all starts two days before seasoned opened, when my bow sights all of a sudden were totally off - way off, and I had to re-align all the pins in two days. The first day I was anxious, tired, and shaky, making any attempts to shoot straight impossible. I went out again the day before I left, and this time, was much calmer, much less confident in myself, I got the pins back in to where they should be.

So, first day of hunting - nothing happened, besides flipping my friends trike I was borrowing over backwards on the way to the hole. Not cool, but everyone was fine. I went to the same spot I got my buck last year, and hoped to pull the same tactics - sit on the water hole long enough and wait, wait, wait, for a buck to walk up. The only thing that walked up (or drove up for that matter) was 6 quads/rangers and 2 jeeps, most of them passing the water hole multiple times, some getting out to gawk and the hole, take pictures, talk really loud, then hop back in the vehicle and drive off. That is literally more interference in one day than we had in the entire rifle hunt last year. So needless to say, NOTHING showed up. At all.

Day 2
During the night, the wind blew so hard it broke my tent - clean broke it - snapped my tent poles and bent over far enough to beat us on the head all night long. I could have sworn a hurricane was blowing in or something. Different, I have to admit.
Went back to water hole in the morning, and sat and sat and.... the wind was bad, still. It was blowing the totally wrong direction, the same direction we hoped the deer were coming from. So, I decided to check out a different road I knew about that we hadn't tried before, to see if we could find something. So we (my hunting pal and me) piled in our pickup, and drove a ways down this road  -  the trip was suddenly cut short by several rocks the size of Texas sitting in the road. No big deal right?, just turn around. Well, in the turning around process, we got the truck stuck on more rocks, wedged on the frame, tires not getting enough traction because the hill was wedged on the middle of the truck.
One hour of digging, praying, and the such like later, we had the truck out - only to back into a tree and pop out the rear light. *sigh* After being scared to death that I had damaged the drive train and transmission on oodles of rocks, the tail light was the least of my worries. We headed out from there, had lunch, then headed home early to go see the second Hobbit movie - Review coming sooner or later.....

So, back again Sunday night, and we had a different tent that withstood the fury of the wind, and we got a better night sleep with the tent remaining intact the entirety of the night. Thank goodness.

Day Three, we again sat on the water hole, this time the wind had died down and we could pick our spots without the worry of scent flow.
Long story short, sitting on this water hole, we ended up running into three people that would drastically change the rest of the hunt. One was an old hunter on a ranger, the other, was the same old guy who told me where to get my deer last year, whom we nicknamed Jalopy from his old beat up jeep, with his wife along. The ranger guy gave us tips on where to go for the deer, and Jalopy told me and my friend we could stay in his tiny stone cabin just at the base of the hill for our hunt. It is this little stone cabin, built in 1882 by his grandfather, passed down through the years through various sundry ways. So, the rest of the nights hunting were spent out of the wind, safe in stone walls, on rusty spring bunk beds. It was about as luxurious as hunting is allowed to get before it starts becoming illegal - can't be *too* comfy on a hunt you know.

Day four, we had climbed the tallest mountain around, chucked rocks off it's five hundred foot cliff-face (post-lunch entertainment) saw one doe about a mile off,  nearly died (or so it seemed) because we didn't bring enough water on the hike, then waded down the face of a mile-long hill though more types of mean and evil plants than you knew existed.

Day five, we sat near a spot all day where we had seen a doe on the way back to camp the day previous. Nothing, all day. Except that old hunter on a ranger of course. Those hunters around in there had better be glad we weren't hunting them.....

Anyway, by the time the last day rolled around, Day 6, a Thursday, I was desperate. We climbed back up to the big hill we had climbed on day four, in hopes of scouring it better and finding some bucks. The wind was wrong from the start, blowing the totally wrong way, and was bitter cold. The last time we were up there, it was hot, so on this trip, I brought less jackets and nearly froze.

I had basically made up in my mind by now that I was not getting a deer. Everything during the week had not gone as planned. The trike got a flat tire the first day, the truck had gotten stuck and scratched real bad, none of my plans were working, we had seen two does, and no bucks, I was tired, and the list goes on. The only good thing it had seemed was that we got to stay in the cabin. Loved that little place.

So anyway, here comes the meat of the story, but it still requires a little more explanation. On Tuesday, day four, climbing back down the mountain, we were hot, tired, and out of water. Clean out of water. Going down this STEEP hill covered with evil brush that tries to eat you alive is no fun anyway, but in that state, I had almost hit the point of despair.

And then, something changed.
Normally in this area, you pick your way around through the brush, through the thinnest spots and least resistance. Take the path of least resistance. About halfway down the hill, I had had enough, and something in my mind flipped. When picking a path and sizing up obstacles, it was no longer "will this hinder me?". It became "will this stop me?" I had a goal - getting down the hill. No tree or brush was getting in the way of that. Now, if I came to a dead tree limb, instead of working around it, my path zigging and zagging across the hill, I ripped the branch off and kept going in a straight line. Next dead bush in my way - no beating around the bush (literally) now. Straight over the top, smash it down, keep on going.

That was one piece of the puzzle God was assembling for me this week, that played into the last, momentous day.

Back to Day 6. The wind is all wrong. There is no deer in the area we had seen the one doe on Tuesday. The wind is frigid. We finally ducked under some fir trees for a while, ate lunch and tried to warm up.

With only a few hours left before we needed to head down the hill, we headed out again. And again, something changed.

Like I said, I was pretty certain I was not getting a deer. Last day before we leave, two hours to go, bad wind, no deer - it was not all adding up for success. But God nudged me down deep. I realized, if I really believed God would provide, if I really believe that God was in charge, then I needed to be ready for whatever God would do, and prepare in faith so that if one did show up, I wouldn't be caught without oil in my lamp. Up until now, during all the climbing, and glassing, I had carried my bow on my back. I unstrapped it, knocked an arrow, and kept walking. Another piece in the puzzle.

Still hiking, we came to a point where the wind blew up from one dip in the valley we had just climbed out of and onto the top of the hill. The wind was so tremendous, so strong, so cold, we stood irresolute for a minute, trying to decide our next move.

The wind is wrong. The wind is cold. Half hour left till we need to leave. No deer seen yet today. The wind is now blowing harder than ever, a large growing storm on heading our way fast, with big bad storm clouds threatening to dump cold misery down from above. I had been praying for a while. "God, just let me see a buck. I just want to see one. Getting one would be great, but I just want to see a buck today."

Again, another spiritual fight was waging. Should I call it a day? Was that the last straw? Should I give up, give in, and back down? Did I really believe God would provide? One by one, all the cards were against me. Time, terrain, weather, odds, everything was stacking further and further towards a good reason to turn my back on that wooded hillside and walk to the truck.

But I didn't. I kept walking, and decided to check one last area before we called it quits. One thought that came through my mind then, was that when I had a family to put meat on the table for, the weather was no excuse to walk away.

So, walking across the hillside, glassing the trees, it happened. I was ready - kinda, but not in the right way. My friend suddenly spun me around, and both of us watched the biggest buck we had even seen come out of the tree line 30 yards above us on the hill, and trot away the way we had just came. Biggest buck we had ever seen alive that is. Probably a 5x5, or the like, near 200 pounds. Big tall rack, thick bodied deer, totally worthy of the table - and the mantelpiece.

I stripped off my pack, stuffed my rangefinder in my pocket, and stalked after the buck of my dreams.

A half hour later, I had lost the buck, lost my friend, and lost my pack. Nice. Eventually I found my friend who had moved my pack, but the Buck was gone for good. We found where he had been sitting, under a tree, surrounded by bushes, watching us as we went by, then busted cover and ran after we passed.

The buck of my dreams had slipped my fingers, but actually, it didn't seem to bother me. I was rather surprised, actually, at my own response to not bringing that buck down. After I got my pack back, and started to head down the hill, I was just as giddy, well, close to, as if I had actually got the deer. I had asked to see a buck, and By Golly God answered. I thought about it as I hiked - smashing limbs out of my way as I went. The process, the stalking, the waiting, the hunting, was what mattered. The process, not the outcome.

Anyway, either way, I was happy. God had answered.

But the story doesn't end there.

 - - - - ~ - - - - 

It wasn't till  the day after that all the pieces of the puzzle finally all fit together, and the life implications that all came from them. They fit together, piece by piece, to make a life message.

It started with my bow sights going wrong. God took my confidence away from myself and my bow, and put it totally, only on Him. God changed all my plans, all my ideas about how and where I would hunt, and made me trust that He had the best idea, not me. I learned to not let the little inconveniences distract and sidetrack you from the main goal. I learned to never give up, even in the face of overwhelming odds. I learned to have joy, even in the face of seeming defeat.

So the overarching picture of life it frames? Those aren't random thoughts, disjointed and disconnected from one another, but all fit, even in order of appearance, into one, coherent story. It's actually kinda scary how perfect it played out.  It was laid out perfectly, point by point, like an instruction manual on far more than just deer hunting, but for the entirety of life. This is not only in the order I learned it in, but is a sequential chain of the order we need to live life in.

First in your journey in life, trust God, and not yourself. God used my bow sights to remove my confidence from me and put it on him. Whenever God is getting you ready for something in life, no matter what your skills and abilities may be, God is the one in control, and God is the one to trust in.

Second, the the game plan is in God's hands. He knows how he wants things to turn out, and trust me, it is far better than what you wanted. We can plan and prepare all we like, but God has the final call, and we need to be able to go where he leads.

Third, keep going through the small things that seem to bar your way, but are in reality mere inconveniences. Like the brush, it wasn't about whether or not it was in the way - it was about whether or not it would stop you. Keep plowing towards towards your goal, despite the annoyances.

Fourth, never give up, even when it seems everything is going against you. Our God is a God of lost causes, second chances, and no-end situations. It's in those times, when everything else is telling you to turn tail and run, that God shows his wonder and might and pulls everything around i seemingly impossible ways, when you merely put your head down and keep going.

Fifth, success is not the goal. Obedience is. Sometimes victory does not include winning. Sometimes the goal of a situation was not to get the deer, but to chase it and not get it. The goal of the trip was the journey, not the destination.  

And lastly, and honestly, my favorite -  This is where, just maybe, the story picks up again, and might end differently than last time.

Sometimes in life, after the lesson, there is a second chance.

Deer season hasn't closed yet, and after Christmas, I am going back for a day with some of my Christmas money, for one last shot at that buck. God made me go through the lesson before I got recess, the bitter before the sweet, the vegetables before desert, the journey before the destination.

But sometimes in life, there isn't that second chance. Sometimes it's a one-time deal. God wanted you to journey, not to arrive. There is always that possibility that we must accept, and learn from.

But who knows, I just might bring that buck home.      

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Button

I have officially discovered why I am not a techy.

This evening, I spent who knows how many hours arguing with HTML, goggling at HTML, fighting with HTML, hating HTML, not getting anywhere near understanding HTML.......Yeah, I hate HTML. I love the fact that other people do use it, and understand it, and can do it for me, but as for me and my house, we will shoot down HTML the first time it shows its ugly face near my laptop screen. 

I was *trying* to use the HTML stuff to make a Blogger Button, to have something you all out there could paste on your blog sidebars - a little advertising of your favorite redneck blog. *innocent grin*.

Yeah, that didn't go so swell. I googled it, and got one strand on HTML to punch in and fill in. That didn't work. So I googled some more, and found a different strand of HTML to punch in and fill in. That didn't work either, but worked better. 

Around and around and around I went, getting more frustrated as time went on. I called in reinforcements - My mom couldn't even totally make heads or tails of the issue. 

So, I got creative. I figured out what part of the HTML code was working, what parts weren't, and jimmied it to do what I wanted. 

And it worked. 

My own, personal, rednecked HTML, worked. 

So, figuring I had better quit while I was ahead, I developed this little system to thwart the attempts of the HTML trying to drive me insane and buttonless, and behold, I have conquered. *grinds useless HTML into carpet with boot*    

Rant over. *exhausted sigh*

So, up at the top with all of my pages, you will see a new page - 'Snag My Button' it reads - on that page lies my own personal HTML, tested and ready for you and your blogs. Goes around stupid HTML stuff, and uses my own HTML to my own means. Just punch it into an HTML thingy on your blog sidelines, and whazammo, a nice little picture will link *your* blog readers to *my* blog. Howzat for showing your loyalty?

So, I would certainly appreciate all the advertisement I could implore your gracious hearts to bestow upon me and my cyber-nook. 

Thanks a heap! 


Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving in the Country

I don't know what people who don't have the great outdoors ingrained into them do on thanksgiving - wait I take that back. I know what they do. They play the Wii, drink a few beers, cokes and cider, catch up on happenings and sit around the living room until the food appears. At least, that is what my extended family does - cousins and aunts and such.

We normally go down south to have Thanksgiving with our extended family, but this year we weren't able to make it. We couldn't sit at home alone of course, so we planned a full day of fun over at our other families house - other family translated as our best friends down the road.

We knew it would be a fun day, but we didn't really know the extent of it, or what it would entail.
Bro - What more needs be said?

Bows - of course - who wouldn't have Thanksgiving without archery being involved?
The girls were totally interested in archery, but had little to no experience or practice. So, lessons commenced, along with general open-season on anything downrange stupid enough to get pegged by all involved.  

Demonstration fire

You can tell by her face that Jessie and that target must have had a disagreement sometime in the near past... 

She looks a tad happier - she must have settled part of the score with the target

Lisa apparently was on fine terms with the target, and on fine terms with the holes she put in it 

Eggnog Row

Oh Golly  -  I missed! 

During and around the archery was arranged a Pellet Gun competition - I didn't win, but I came close. The competition kinda fizzled out when we found out that the scope on the gun they were using was a tad off.

Matthew snipin'. He had the highest score at the end 

Raspberry Tea and a good seat to watch from 

Yours Truly, with me own shooter

Bro at bat.   Er .... gun. 

Lisa gone lefty

Jess was the bravest and free-handed a few shots

After the shooting of various weaponry for several hours, an impromptu photo shoot cropped up. Us and the girls had never had a really good shot of us all together.

And if any of you have been around on one of our photo shoots, you know that is no easy or quick matter.
Lots of shooting ensued, before and after the desired shot was taken.

Sister Love

Bro : Maybe I should have my hat this way -
Me: I don't know him.....
Photo bomber...

Had to throw this one in - I have seen very few good shots of people with Compound bows, so I am always looking for some, or trying to take them and be in them.
Needless to say, I love this one. 

The Guardians

And this was the reason for the entire shoot - One good shot of all of us together -
We call them 'the girls', they call us 'the boys'
Together, more than friends  -  Family.  

So, we eventually had to close shop and stow away the gear for animals chores, and of course, for dinner.

And when it came to dinner, we did things a tad differently than most rednecks.

I insisted on decking out a touch for Thanksgiving, and everybody else decided to follow suit. We put on our Sunday best, put out the best China and Silver, and had a Thanksgiving dinner in style.

But, despite the fancy clothes and fancy fixin's, it was still a redneck dinner. 

Someone commented halfway through the main meal that we were sitting around a gorgeously decked out table, all in our Sunday best, eating with Silver off of China, discussing the best way to polish off the neighborhood coyotes - hardly becoming of the high-class look we were sporting. 

You can deck out a Redneck, but he's still a redneck. : ) 

So, all in all, I have to say I think it was the best Thanksgiving I have had. Thank God for good times, good food, good friends, and loads of all of them.   

Here's to loads more. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Give Thanks

I know today can be hectic - pie to bake, turkey to roast, deserts to whip together, take that turkey back out of the oven and put the stuffing inside it that should have been in there an hour ago, tables to set.... you know what I am talking about. 

But despite all of that - even if the stuffing isn't ready on time, even if the in-laws showed up late, even if the pie is a tad underdone, just sit back for a second and look around. 

Honestly, you really have a lot to be thankful for.

I don't know the list, but you do. You know all those things that show in little ways that God is there and is caring for you far better than you ever could yourself. Sometimes we forget it in the hustle-bustle hurly-burly lives we live, and need to mentally take a step back and take stock of all we have been blessed with. 

So, this is just a quick reminder - a brief pit stop in the race of life today. 

No matter what, remember God is good, and give thanks.  

And you never know, that pie might taste better half cooked after all.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

God Is Good...

...All the Time
And all the time...
God is Good.

We say it a lot, and I think most of the time we mean it, but a part of this simple phrase has made me think a lot lately.

It normally goes like this -

Life is normal.
*sweet music in the background*
Crisis strikes.
*Cue scary music*
We panic.
*music rises*
We panic some more.
*music reaches a climactic pitch*
Something resolves and the crisis is eliminated.
*Cue relieved face*

You know what comes next.....

"God is Good," we say with a sigh of relief, wiping our hand across our forehead as we ponder on the narrowness of our escape from tragedy.

So obviously we are thanking God for ending whatever just happened - tire got fixed - person got better - money came in - and we (rightly) are giving God praise for his goodness. Good stuff, and quite proper I think.

But why is that when we say it?

Well obviously, you say, God has been good to us for ending that ____ (fill in blank)

I find myself asking why that is the only time we say it - why is it *after* the crisis, we say God is good to us?

I think that timing speaks volumes about what we believe about how God should be treating us. We give God thanks in plenty with sunny skies, we panic when it all goes catty-hoopus, and then thank God when the clouds leave and the sun comes back.

If you work it out logically, it means that if you only are saying God is good when times are good, that means that you think God is not good when times are not good. Thank God for all the plenty. Hot-Doggidy what is this-  - Hard times? PANIC. WORRY. FRET. Whew, hard times behind - God is good.

Why aren't we thanking God in the hard times - *during* the accident, *during* the sickness?

And I am not talking about looking for the bright side of things and thanking God for that -  that still implies that there is a dark side of things that you are not thanking God for. I am talking about thanking God for the rough, the tough, and the no-fun. The mud on the Church clothes. The rain on the picnic. The lack of funds.

There is a story in WWII, where the only reason that the prisoners in German concentration camps were allowed to read their Bibles in peace, was because of the very lice that they had complained about was keeping the German guards out of their rooms - leaving them to read, study, and worship in absolute peace.

Sometimes those bad times are just what we need, and we need to thank God for them. Why wouldn't we? We shouldn't be thankful for all the good stuff God dishes out, only to be cranky when the mill slows down.

 Really, what have we to complain about?  

 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Flowers need rain *and* shine guys. And both in good portions.

And yes, that verse does say *all* things. Even flat tires. Even broken legs. Even sadness, heartache, misery, and unfair treatment. And even lice. All things.

So next time you land flop in a doozie, stop for a second and thank God for it. Don't try to find some reason why it is good, because that still leaves out thanking God for the bad. Just thank God for it, and move on. Like the verse said, it will work for good.

So, I guess I was wrong.

If you thank God in hard times, in reality, you really are thanking God for the good stuff.

The phrase "It's all good", suddenly has new meaning. Bummer, it so irks me when people say it.  : (

In the long run, if we really look back at our lives, we will find that it is those hard times that produced the best growth in us. God said it's better to go to a funeral than a house of feasting.

God gives us those hard times, because he knows we need them.  

Yeah - I was wrong. I guess bad times, really are good times, and then, no matter what, we come back around to thanking God for the good times.

Imagine that. God must be good.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Makeup: The Good, the Bad, and (of course) the Ugly

This topic came in full swing recently, and I have to admit, it kinda took me off guard. It got brought up once or twice in my circles, then came back in full swing just the other day. As a guy, this topic really doesn't have the potential that it could have for a girl. Hence, it really didn't pick up on my radar. 

I have to admit, my opinions have changed on this topic over the years. I use to think....

Well, I'll get to that in a minute. : ) 

There appears to be two sides to this topic - obviously, but both sides have some valid points I think.

But, with no further ado, here we go.  : )

So, some circles say makeup is taboo. Some say it is legal all the way round. Some layer it on like a clown at a circus gone bad. Some put so little on that you never can tell it's there. Some think that if you wear it at all, or even think about wearing it, you are the epitome of heathen. And of course, like any other topic, there are a lot who believe everything in-between.

I want to take this topic and work through it as logically as possible, because this topic can be really confusing if you don't understand exactly the worldview behind the statements.

The makeup market nowadays is huge - if anybody ever doubts that, just walk by the makeup isles in Sears of Walmart. Guys, try really hard not to run for about 3 seconds just to let it really set it. Then, by all means, you are allowed to run.

So, what is makeup, after all? What's the point? After all, why do girls make so much fuss about face-paint?
(Sorry, the guy in me slipping out...)

Makeup, on the general scale of things, is made to make people look different - look different than how they naturally are. For movies and the like, this can be extremely handy. This post isn't referring to the use of movie makeup - just makeup for person use.

So, looking different. Makeup is to make yourself look different. Is that good or bad? There is one main theme of argument that runs against wearing makeup, at least, one main one that I have heard. That is, that, obviously, whatever you do speaks about your worldview - you do what you believe. Now, I want to lay this out point by point, so we can see the line of logic flow.

By the way, I am going to try a new way of arguing this time. I saw this *point* style that I found immensely helpful and easy to understand, so if I like the way it turns out, I might use it more often. You'll have to tell me what you think.

Anyway, the logic goes like this.

1. God made you good.
2. God made you look the way he wanted you to look
3. Putting makeup on changes the way you look
4. Putting makeup on makes you not look like the way God made you
5. Since the way God made you was good ....
6. Then makeup is not good since it is not the way God made you

Ok, how was that? Was that helpful?

Oh well, I am going to keep using arguments in that format for this post anyway. : )

So, if you track with those points, they all seem pretty good - right?

Well, the breakdown of the points is actually pretty good - so from 1-5 is actually OK - it is point six - the conclusion - that has problems. The logic and presupposition behind the conclusion something goes like this. (More point logic coming)

1. God made things good
2. When you change things, they are no longer the way God made them
3. Since changing things changes them from the way God made them....
4. Then we shouldn't ever change things since they are no longer the way God made them

That is the line of logic that is really behind the first line of logic - and is as you can see, faulty. Why?

Well, that line of logic says we can never change things in our world - but isn't that exactly what God told us to do? Have dominion? Changing the trees to paper, or houses, or firewood, then becomes taboo. We can't hunt, or eat meat - scratch that - we can't eat period, because we are changing things from the way God made them. We are changing trees to paper, dirt to metal, steak to muscle, and plants to medicine. If we were never allowed to change things, then God would have never given us the dominion mandate, since God would then be telling us to do something that was not allowed. He surely wasn't telling us to merely sit back and stare at the earth he just made - we are to use it, and that requires change.

Now, at this point, the people against makeup throw in an argument right here, saying that, again, we have gone off the good ole' beaten path. Line Logic commencing.

1. God made things good
2. Changing things means (obviously) that they weren't good enough as they were in the first place, hence the change
3. Since God made everything, changing things therefore means that you think God didn't do a good enough job when he made it, or else you would leave it as it was.
4. Therefore, changing things is a sign of discontent, or a snobish 'know better' attitude.

Ok, so that is how they argue. You wouldn't change things if you thought they were good enough in the first place, which means you obviously don't think God did a good enough job.

But again, their lines of logic don't quite line up, but this time it goes astray way back in point two, instead of near the end.

Granted, changing things from one thing to another means that it wasn't good enough as it was - at least, not good enough for a specific purpose.

Let me explain. You chop down a tree and build a house with it, not because you think that God did an amazingly crummy job on building a tree and you are gonna show Him a thing or two, but because you can't use the tree to build your house if it is still standing there in the forest. It wasn't good enough for a specific purpose and you were changing it to be more useful for a specific purpose.  

So changing things doesn't mean necessarily that you think it wasn't good enough. You may think it isn't good enough as it is, but the act of changing it in-and-of-itself doesn't mean you think it is substandard. It is perfectly OK to change things, it is only your attitude behind changing things that makes you either discontent and trying to fix it, or content but using it differently.

So, how does that apply over to makeup? Well, lets play it down simply again, since it is easier to argue with and understand there. Makeup changes the way you look - so if makeup in-and-of itself is wrong, then changing how you look is wrong. See that connection?



1. Makeup changes the way you look
2. Makeup is bad
3. Therefore, changing the way you look is bad.

Oh bummer - guys, you are now doomed to never cutting your hair, you are never allowed to shave, or anything ever again that would ever alter you appearance from the way that God made it, or is making it, through natural processes.

But again, that logic is faulty, and again, it goes awry at point two, because it is still assuming that changing the way you look it inherently evil.

More logic lines.

1. Changing the way you look makes you look different that God made you
2. You only change things when you don't like them how they are
3. Therefore you only change the way you look when you are not happy with the way you look.

Wow - I think for once we got all the way through a logic line without botching it, yet at the same time, they still haven't gotten their kill-line in. Their clincher line actually turned around and clinched them - their own point bit them in the rear.

Exactly - you only change things appearance when you aren't happy with the way they look. For instance, you mow the lawn when you don't like the shaggy look. You trim the tree because you don't like the dead limb on that one side. You plant a bush in the corner because you don't like the bare spot.

So what is the matter with that? Isn't that changing your notch of dominion, as you see fit?

The problem is, it seems they get rather hung up on a certain point - they (the no makeup clan) cannot conceive of change without discontent, a connection that I do not think is valid. they say that the only reason you would want to put makeup on is to look different, drop the line of logic there and leave us hanging wondering why on earth looking different is bad.

Well, I don't think it is, honestly. I love the forest, don;t get me wrong, but I am all for cutting a few trees down here and there to build me a log cabin. And don't forget the garage, weapon shop, artist work-space.... you get the point. : )

But, they persist, the issue of makeup really boils down to discontentment. Discontentment is the reason they change the way they look. Discontentment is the real kahuna that is back to break the back of the makeup argument.

Ok, so the argument goes like this (you should start to see where this is going to go)

1. You change things when you are discontent with the way they are.
2. Makeup changes the way things are
3. Discontentment is bad
4. Therefore, makeup is bad.

Boy, those arguments seem a bit repetitive after a while.
This time, the logic goes out right smack dab from point 1. They base their entire argument off of the presupposition that you only put makeup on when you are discontent with your appearance. Or, to put it in a similar analogy, you only change things when you don't like it.

We already we't through that line of logic, and we know it isn't valid, but it does bring up an excellent point.
Discontentment can be a huge factor in not only makeup, but in literally anything. And I mean, anything, and everything.

You can be discontent where you are sitting on the couch reading this - so you will change it and move. You could be discontent with how the yard looks, so you mow it. You could be discontent with how your hair looks, so you dye it, crop it, and tie it in funny knots. You could be discontent with your earthly possessions, so you buy bigger and better stuff. You could be discontent with how much money you have, so you work hard so you can have all the money you like. You could be discontent with how your face looks, so you put makeup on and get a face lift.

And honestly, this is how I grew up thinking - I thought there was a one-one correlation between makeup and discontentment. It still plagues me, even though I have worked through this in my mind. I still have a hard time bending my will to my mind, and sometimes I see someone in a layer of makeup, and my first reaction is to think they are discontent with how they look. I do not think it is a right response, but it is my first response. I am changing my opinions and my preferences, slowly, bit by bit.

So, I throw that out there just to say that this isn't a this-is-the-way-I-was-brought-up thing. I had to work through this by God's grace and some simple reasoning. I had a bias the opposite direction of what my opinion is now, and had to work opposite to my feelings. This can't be taken on a basis of 'we don't like it'. If you don't like it, don't wear it.

Guys, if you wear it, I'll hit you. Just saying.        

Had to throw that it. Be clear, you know. : D *wink*

But that brings up another good point. I'll get back to that in a minute.

But back to discontentment, it could very well be a very prominent reason most people wear makeup. BUT. That does not mean that makeup is automatically tied to discontentment, as we already have shown. It can appear because of it, but one does not always come before another. So, I think makeup is sufficiently in the clear - it can be used for good reasons, outside of discontentment.

So, what can you use it for?

Well, before I get to heavy into that I want to point to several references from scripture about decking out in our Sunday best.

Er, um sorry, let me translate. Several points about dressing up in our best clothes for the occasion.
In the Old Testament, God had the Levities put on special clothes, worn only at certain particular times, to enter the Holy of Holy's. God commanded the Levites the rest of the time to wear other special clothes, for the rest of the temple duties. Esther went through a year of 'decking out' before going to see the king. Gold, silver, and other shiny rocks were used commonly for royalty, palaces, and places of worship, inside and outside of God's people. These are all examples, and I am sure there are far more that I can't think of, that show that there is a certain amount of decking out due when approaching royalty, authority, and of course, Deity.

There is something ingrained into the heart of man to put on his best - whether clothes or actions - for the boss - whoever the boss is in the given situation. I don't know what it is, or even understand it, and it doesn't make sense in my pea-sized pate up on these shoulders. But I have to acknowledge that it does exist, and from what I see in scripture, I think it is legitimate.

So why don't guys wear makeup?

Because I think the purpose of makeup is to beautify, and guys, I am sorry, you weren't meant to look beautiful. Girls sorta have the corner on the market when in comes to beauty. We just sorta look ruggedly handsome - maybe - that is actually quite debatable - but certainly not beautiful. I think girls putting on makeup makes them look more beautiful, and adds to their womanly air. I think makeup, used to enhance a woman's appearance and grace, can be used rightly with wonderful results.

Back to the whole point about changing things for a purpose - If girls are decking out for a special occasion, where there is a purpose, and I think a legitimate one, I think it is in the clear If we are decking out merely so we can do barn chores, and work around the house..... then I think we start having issues. There is no reason to be decking out in those circumstances - no big wigs or high haunchos present. It's like putting on your church clothes to go dig a irrigation trench - the two just don't fit together.
Change with a purpose remember. What is the purpose of changing the way we look on a daily basis? If a gal works where the vast public sees her daily, I think a case could be made. If a gal stays home, milks cows, and raises kids all day, yet still puts on her makeup every morning, one starts to wonder as to her motives. Change for the big dog in town coming over for dinner I think is perfectly legitimate.

(*Note*, I am not a big wig - girls, don't ever think you have to deck out when I am around, you won't hurt my feelings - or my eyes - one way or the other)
That was extra.....

So, I think, in the right circumstances, for the right purpose, put on makeup, and do a good job while you're at it - the world will thank you. Or at least, I will.

 There it is - call me what you like, but that is my opinion. And hence why any boy wearing any makeup (besides mud of course - that doesn't count) needs to be slugged - post haste and with gusto if you please. Guys are not meant to look 'pretty' - ever.

So, of course, makeup has to be used within reason, same as anything you do, or else - well, it goes from looking more beautiful to less and less and less beautiful. Fast. I can't tell you the utter sense of *bleagh* that I get from walking by a girl wearing so much makeup she is simply disgusting looking. Believe me, I have seen it. It aint purdy, by a long shot.

Ladies, use it sparingly, you would be surprised how a little goes a long way.....

.....Ooops, don't take that wrong, please don't....So sorry, guy-ness leaking forth...

*ahem* Moving on.

So, you get the point. I am learning to like it - little bits here and there of good taste and a good job are helping tremendously with my appreciation for it.

I do have to say though, I do not like Mascara used in abundance. I think when used heavier than it aught to be (not saying it is bad period) but when used in piles, it has heavy sensual overtones that really grates me. Girls, you may not see it, but it communicates loads to a guy. So please, if using mascara around guys, try to keep it to a dull roar. I think it can be quite nice used in reason. They do say too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing.
That last part was supposed to be encouraging.....  .........   .......   .........

Anyway, there is my gander on the lot. Quite a topic, I have to admit, and takes loads of wading through to even start to find solid ground to start working from, but I think the result is worth it.